Think about (without deep reflection) 5 things you’d like to change about yourself. These could be habits that you’d like to break; habits that you’d like to have, attitudes that you would like to alter; or situations that you would like to be different.
If you’d like to be able to cross a few of those off the list, let me share what has worked for me.
Go over that list and think about which one of those items is becoming non-negotiable. What I mean by “non-negotiable” is: Which one of those things are you starting to have a hard time rationalizing to yourself as to why you have been avoiding it? Which one do you tend to beat yourself up about the most? Which of those items is keeping you from having what you deeply want in life? The one that stands out the most — that is starting to provoke the most anxiety — is what I call “non-negotiable.” In other words, you know that this has got to change if you want to evolve.
For instance, when I was approaching 40 I knew that if I didn’t get into a regular exercise schedule, I would not look or feel the way I wanted. It became non-negotiable that I get into the habit of regular exercise, as much as I dreaded having to do so.
A friend of mine got to an impasse in her career in which she knew that if she did not further her education, she would stay where she was. Although she resisted going back to school and face her fears that she was inadequate, it became non-negotiable that she rearrange her schedule to fit in those classes if she wanted to get to the next level.
Change IS difficult. Mainly because it takes effort — either you a) have to apply yourself, b) have to use the tools that self-help sages advise, or c) you have to be more conscious and aware of yourself — and that really does take effort. When I was in private practice I used to tell my clients that if there really were a magic wand, I’d gladly use it, but it just doesn’t exist.
If you can get your mind to cooperate with your goal, change is a lot simpler. Once you identify what is non-negotiable you are setting the intention for change, which is the beginning of focusing your energy in a positive way. Perhaps the most important message I can convey here this month is that you lose masses of vital energy on a daily basis just being self-critical and feeling bad about yourself. Anthony Robbins said that the definition of insanity is to keep doing something in the same way and expect different results. All these days, months, years of feeling bad about what you are not doing are a massive drain on you.
When you label something as non-negotiable you are making a commitment to change — to doing things in a different way! Even if the timing is not exactly right, you have started the process in motion.